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Published: Saturday, March 3, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Snohomish church’s kids set Martin Luther King Jr.’s message to music

  • Drake Wilson plays Martin Luther King Jr. in "A Martin Luther King Jr. Musical," which will be performed at 2 p.m. today and 10:30 a.m. Sund...

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Drake Wilson plays Martin Luther King Jr. in "A Martin Luther King Jr. Musical," which will be performed at 2 p.m. today and 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the First Presbyterian Church in Snohomish.

  • Mary Beth Kurtenbach directs the cast in the singing of a song during a dress rehearsal Sunday of "A Martin Luther King Jr. Musical" Sunday afternoon.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Mary Beth Kurtenbach directs the cast in the singing of a song during a dress rehearsal Sunday of "A Martin Luther King Jr. Musical" Sunday afternoon.

SNOHOMISH -- Eight-year old Hannah Schlosser-Hall was nervous. It was only days before she would perform in the children's play, "Martin Luther King Jr. Musical." To help ease her nerves, she practiced her lines and her songs, as much as possible.
Hannah is one of 35 kids set to act in the musical.
Director Mary Beth Kurtenbach wrote the musical as part of an after-school program at the First Presbyterian Church of Snohomish. Through it, she aims to teach children about King's life and about the civil rights movement.
For Hannah, the play helped her understand how important King is in American history.
"King just knew what was wrong," Hannah said. "He realized things before other people did."
Her older sister, Maya, plays Rosa Parks. In learning her role, she started to realize how hard was life for black people back then.
"I think she was really brave to stand up to the law," 12-year old Maya said.
The musical is set for 2 p.m. today, and at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, at the church, 1306 Lake View Ave. Entrance is free but donations to help the church's scholarship fund are accepted.
The one-hour show is set around a class discussing King. As the teacher explains King's life, important milestones are reenacted through song.
The play was staged last year at Glenwood Elementary School in Lake Stevens, Kurtenbach said.
For this presentation, she added more songs, including "We Shall Overcome" and " If I Had a Hammer." The musical also highlights King's work as a clergyman.
The play will help the children, who are between 6 and 15 years of age, understand more about civil rights, no matter the color of their skin, she said.
"It makes history come alive to them," Kurtenbach said. "By being put of these roles, they felt what prejudice is like."
The play was originally set for February, to commemorate Black History Month, but was delayed by January's snow storm.
The church's pastor Charlie Lewis added segments from the letter King sent to white church leaders from the Birmingham jail, which will be read in different parts of the musical.
The church has done several musicals before, but all have been about Christmas, Lewis said.
"People will enjoy seeing the talent of the children and learn pieces of the civil rights movement that they may not have been aware of," Lewis said.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.
Musical performances
"A Martin Luther King Jr. Musical" is scheduled for 2 p.m. today and 10:30 a.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church of Snohomish, 1306 Lake View Ave., Snohomish.
Mary Beth Kurtenbach will direct more than 35 students in a musical depicting the civil rights leader's message. Admission is free, but a donation to church scholarship fund is accepted.
Story tags » SnohomishFaithCivil Rights

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